Interview: Teresa Palmer; star of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Interview: Teresa Palmer; star of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. By Simon Miraudo.

Teresa Palmer is one of the most sought-after young actresses in Hollywood, and with good reason. Since her auspicious debut as a disturbed teenager in Murali K. Thalluri’s 2:37, she has nabbed herself a number of plum roles in Hollywood blockbusters (Bedtime Stories) and acclaimed independent features (December Boys). Over the past few years, Palmer’s name has been linked to some high-profile projects, including George Miller’s now-defunct Justice League of America, and his (production pending) sequel to Mad Max. She’s most recently been rumoured to be in the running to star as Peter Parker’s love interest in Marc Webb’s upcoming Spider-Man reboot. Her latest film, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, is a big-budget expansion of the famous sequence from Disney’s Fantasia, in which she stars as Becky Barnes, the childhood sweetheart of star Jay Baruchel.

I spoke to Teresa about her career so far, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, as well as her upcoming features I Am Number Four, Say Nothing and Kids in America. I also take the opportunity to figure out where she currently stands with Spider-Man and Mad Max: Fury Road, and ponder the JLA movie that could have been…

SM: I guess we’ll start with the beginning. Do you remember a time when you were younger when you realised you wanted to become an actress?

TP: Yes, I do. I remember watching one of my favourite movies – it’s called The Little Princess, and it’s by Alfonso Cuaron. I was the same age as the little girl in the movie, so I would have been about eight years old, or nine years old, and I remember dancing like her, and talking in a little American accent like her and asking my mum to get me the same outfit that Sarah Crewe was wearing in the movie. I just wanted to be her and be a part of that world; I think my passion for film started, you know, from that age.

SM: Right, well you mentioned The Little Princess, and your latest film is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Were you a fan of Fantasia growing up?

TP: Absolutely, yeah I loved Fantasia. I remember watching it with my mum, and the music would come on and we’d dance around to it. So I was very familiar with the story of Fantasia and obviously the segment – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – is a very popular part of that film. I was just so honoured to be a part of the live action version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I really enjoyed working on the movie with Jerry Bruckheimer and Nic Cage and I feel blessed to be a part of that family.

SM: Nice one. Tell us how you became involved in the film.

TP: Basically my manager sent me the script and he tod me I’m “really gonna love it” and he thought I was perfect for the role of Becky. I read it and I connected with the character of Becky instantly and thought the script was so endearing. And I remember ringing my mum and telling her that “oh, it’s like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we used to watch it together” and mum was all excited, and I downloaded the music, and was very passionate about getting the movie. So I definitely came into the audition with a lot of pressure on myself to get the movie. I guess it paid off; and I ended up doing two auditions and found out I got the movie on the night of my Bedtime Stories premiere.

SM: Well, that’s a nice little shift there from one movie to another.

TP: Yeah, exactly.

SM: I’m assuming this is the most effects-driven film that you’ve starred in, and I was wondering if it’s difficult adjusting – in the space of two, three years – from small dramas like 2:37 to Sorcerer’s Apprentice?

TP: I don’t really find the transition from small budget films to big budget films too difficult. It’s more having to have this vivid imagination when you’re acting opposite a green screen. You have to pretend a huge eagle is flying towards you and the thing that you’re acting off is one of the PAs, and they’re holding a little wand, and you have to react to that. So I found that very, very difficult, and I definitely had to be focused. I was trying to watch what Jay Baruchel was doing, because he’s so good at that, and he’s such a natural, just pretending something’s there when it’s not. I obviously didn’t have to do any of the sort when I did 2:37, my first film. It was a challenge, but I love challenging myself, and it definitely kept my stimulated. It was very interesting to see what those effects look like in post-production when I saw the movie. It was pretty amazing to think “that’s what I was supposed to be reacting to”.

SM: Have you got a preference at all between the two, both small films and larger budget ones?

TP: I…love….both, for different reasons. I love being part of a big production; it’s always very exciting. You get an even bigger family because there is 200 people on the crew as opposed to 30 on an Australian production. But I think I’m drawn to darker material, and for the most part, darker material is found in independent scripts. They don’t sell as many tickets unfortunately. I just love being part of the small independent movies, because I feel as though I’m really a part of the collaborative process, and not as though I’m just a puppet. Like I really have a say in what I’m doing. That feels really nice.

SM: You mentioned independent films, and it was recently announced that you working on the project Say Nothing with Joel Edgerton.

TP: Yeah.

SM: Can you tell us a little about that?

TP: Yeah I play the character Steph, and she is the sister to Felicity Price – the actress in the movie – and Felicity and Joel Edgerton’s characters are married and have basically …I guess Joel’s character ends up….oh I should probably not tell you the whole story.

SM: Sure, you don’t want to spoil it before it’s even been made. (Although you can read about it here.)

TP: Yeah, it’s directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith, and it’s affiliated with Blue-Tongue Films, and we’re going to be shooting in Cambodia as well as Sydney. It’s a drama, a great, great drama, and very realistic; it definitely exists in the real world. The characters are flawed like normal regular people and that’s refreshing because I think sometimes Hollywood sugarcoats their characters.

SM: Excellent. Well, you’ve actually got a whole bunch of projects lined up, and it’s hard to tell if they’re rumours or if they’re actually happening or not. So do you mind if I ask about a couple of those?

TM: Yeah sure.

SM: Last week, it was rumoured that you were going to be the romantic lead in the new Spider-Man film, or that you were at least in contention for that. Is there any truth there?

TP: I was in contention; I still am. Who knows? I think there are a bunch of us girls who auditioned for Spider-Man, and I’d love to be a part of that project, but it’s a very competitive race and I don’t know who’s going to get it in the end.

SM: Is there anything you can reveal about the role itself?

TP: Um, no actually! They hardly told us anything about it. In fact, the character’s name is ‘Girl’, so they’re being very secretive.

SM: Fair enough.

TP: And Max Max I was … that was the other one you were going to ask?

SM: That one is on the list, but I have a couple of others.

TP: Yeah, Mad Max I was attached to previously, but I had to pull out of that film because I was doing I Am Number Four and there were scheduling conflicts.

SM: One that I was actually curious about is one you shot a few years ago called Kids in America; that’s been kind of tied up in some scheduling issues in the U.S and here, but I hear it’s actually getting a release now in 2011.

TP: Yeah, March it comes out, which is super exciting. I’ve been waiting for that film to be released for a while now. I just love the whole gang in that movie and I had such a blast shooting it in 2007, so it’s all very very cool and exciting news, and it’s finally coming out! I love the movie; it’s set in the eighties, it’s so fun. It’s like a Superbad, but more so than anything it seems as though it seems it was shot in the eighties. It’s very much a John Hughes style film.

SM: Great; I’m definitely looking forward to catching that one. And you mentioned I Am Number Four as well.

TP: Yep, I Am Number Four, I just finished shooting that; shot that for three months in Pittsburgh. I play a badass alien; she looks like everybody else, she looks like a human. She grew up in Australia – she was left in Australia; after her planet was destroyed she hid out in Australia. So I get to keep my natural dialect, which is wonderful, and get to kick some enemy alien butt in the film, so that’s nice. A bit of a change from Becky Barnes in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

SM: Great, well I really appreciate your time here today and I just have one final question. A few years ago, George Miller was putting together a Justice League of America film, and I believe you were lined up to play Talia Al Ghul.

TP: Yes, that’s correct.

SM: I was just wondering how far along the project was when you became involved with it, and what we could have expected from that film.

TP: I’m not sure what’s happening with that anymore. We have no idea; I’m always the last person to find out these things. I was involved in it for probably about a month and a half, and Jay was as well. So we all did our rehearsals and unfortunately with the writers’ strike and the financial crisis the movie fell apart. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future?

SM: Well Teresa I look forward to catching you in some, if not all, of these films in the near future. I appreciate your time.

TP: Thank you so much.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opens across Australia September 9th, 2010. You can read my full review here.

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